The Memling Gul is from the Armenian and Persian Zoroastrian traditions

The Memling gul, the most recognizable motif on rugs, has its name because it is depicted in paintings by Hans Memling (1430 -1494), a painter in Flanders.

This kind of “gul’ can be found in Anatolian, Caucasian, Shasavan and Central Asian rugs. We are told its origins are from Central Asia. More specifically Turkmen.

That is INCORRECT. It derives from the Armenian and Persian Zoroastrian tradition. And I will prove it below.

What is the Memling gul? It’s just a variation of the ancient “stepped-cross” motif with hooks. First seen at the Temple of Anahita 200 BCE.

Read more: Temple of Anahita, Kangavar

Anahita is the Old Persian form of the name of an Iranian and Armenian goddess. “Hellenic influence [gave] a new impetus to the cult of images [and] positive evidence for this comes from Armenia, then a Zoroastrian land.”

According to Strabo, the “Armenians shared in the religion of the Perses and the Medes and particularly honored Anaitis”.

The kings of Armenia were “steadfast supporters of the cult” and Tiridates III, before his conversion to Christianity, “prayed officially to the triad Aramazd-Anahit-Vahagn but is said to have shown a special devotion to ‘the great lady Anahit, … the benefactress of the whole human race, mother of all knowledge, daughter of the great Aramazd'”.

If you want to understand Anatolian and Caucasian rugs, study Armenian Medieval Art.

by Arto Tavukciyan

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